August 24, 1946 (20th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Solon Earl Low

Social Credit

Mr. LOW:

I hold in my hand a map showing the area in which the facilities of this proposed new C.B.C. station should give service. I notice that the station is to be located somewhere about Red Deer. Is that not a coincidence? I wonder what put that idea into the minds of the C.B.C. Furthermore there is a large circle around the area in which the station would serve the people. I notice that the area of coverage is entirely in the southern half of the province, in the populated areas which are now adequately served by the private stations, and it does not extend into the far north at all. The station which the university of Alberta, in conjunction with the department of telephones, had proposed to put up at Red Deer was designed to cover that whole north, and would have covered it. We had in mind, sir, that the American broadcasting services were to be withdrawn. I understand that they have since been withdrawn and that their directional transmissions into that great north land have been discontinued. These people in the north need facilities; they need broadcasting programmes of every description in that north country. As time goes on the need will become greater. I cannot see anything in the present proposals of the C.B.C. in setting up the regional station which can possibly serve the needs of these people in the north country.
There is one other thing. The C.B.C. already have a regional station at Watrous, Saskatchewan. I live away down in the very southwestern part of Alberta, and at almost any hour of the day or night when Watrous is on the air we get the signal clear and strong enough to suit our needs. Who will answer this question:, why in the name of common sense does C.B.C. have to come into Alberta and take away the channel which has been used so successfully in building up the
finest listening audience in the populated sections of western Canada when they could not possibly present- a programme which could in any way take its place?
It is argued of course that the air waves are the property of the people of Canada. I agree, as did my colleague, the hon. member for Macleod in his splendid address last night, but that does not mean that the air waves are the sole property of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. I say to you, sir, that the people themselves have some rights, and they should have the right to speak their mind. I submit to you, that they are already doing that. The statistics covering the listening audiences will amply demonstrate exactly what they are thinking.
The fourth suggestion that I should like to make is that there should be a board of appeal, as was suggested by the hon. member for New Westminster (Mr. Reid). I thought that was a splendid idea. I do not know why it was that I thought of it; perhaps it was a case of two minds thinking alike; but certainly there must be a board of appeal. I noted in the correspondence between the university of Alberta, the government telephone department of Alberta and the various departments down here in Ottawa including the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's offices, the Prime Minister's office, the Minister of Transport's office, and the Minister of Reconstruction's office, all of which correspondence I have before me, that nobody seemed to know exactly who had the responsibility to do what. Everybody seemed to rely entirely upon the advice of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's board, as has already been pointed out two or three times. I do not need to labour the point. Certainly the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation cannot give just administration when it sits in the chair of both the judge and jury; nor can it, as the hon. member for Macleod said, give justice if it is the pitcher and at the same time is allowed to call the strikes. I say, too, that we should exercise care in selecting the board of appeal. If there had been a board of appeal to whom the university of Alberta could have gone in 1944 we would not have had nearly the difficulty we did have, and there would not have been the miscarriage of justice that there was in connection with that station.
I wish to say a word about commentators. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation should exercise great care, much greater care than they have ever exercised before, in the selection of commentators. There, sir, is one of the gravest responsibilities resting upon the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation at the
Radio Broadcasting

present time. People should be told who their commentators are; they should be told what philosophy they follow. Too often men posing as commentators find their way into a position without the people knowing who they are, what they are, and what philosophy they follow. As a result of day after day broadcasting they are able to mould the thinking of the people, and direct it into channels which may be questionable and injurious. They are able to pour out uncalculated quantities of that type of poison which brings results such as we have suffered from in this country, namely, discordant loyalties. It is high time that we began to use much more care in their selection. I have no objection to any person getting on the radio, to any particular philosophy having its spokesman over the radio, but I do say that the people ought to know who they are and what they represent. If they know that they can make up their minds whether to listen and whether to believe. The position of commentator is a most important one, and the commentator should be chosen with care.
I am certain that no one in this house, if he stops to think at all, wants to see the people of Canada forced into a straitjacket where free speech and free thinking are the privilege only of those who control the daily lives of the people. I do not, and I shall fight against any such possibility with all my strength. I will not support the bill now. When I am certain that our freedom is assured and that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is in reality subject ^o the democratic control of the Canadian people, then I shall be pleased to vote for the appropriation of as much money as they may require to take care of their expansion, their research and their activities.

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